Mislaid in Rendition

2013.May.08 Wednesday · 1 comment

in Life

Lever Flushed

One of the things I get asked about regularly is whether or not we’ve ever had a really difficult or awkward night. For the most part, no, there have been occasional guests who were unpleasant or trying for one reason or another, and there have been nights where things started out slow as people took a little while to warm to each other or break the ice, but somehow it’s always worked out. Well, now we’ve had that awkward night though it wasn’t truly awful, no one fought or got food poisoning or anything like that, it was just… well… you decide. Actually, maybe that’s not for me to say – I got to be in the kitchen cooking and only pop out during each course for a few minutes. The guests were the ones…

You see, one night last week we had ten folk reserved for dinner. And then two of them cancelled, and then two more, and then three, all between the early morning and late afternoon. I was already prepping things, but we only had three folk left. I was crossing my fingers and two folk reserved, bringing us up to five. I decided to go ahead and keep at it. And then five reserved, bringing us back up to full, and then they cancelled half an hour later.

And then dinnertime arrived, and the first two folk did. They were from Odessa in the Ukraine. Between them they spoke about 50 words of English and none of Spanish. I managed to figure out that they’d found us on TripAdvisor using its translate feature. And they hadn’t gone to our website, they’d just gotten that we were up there in the ratings, and then apparently shown our email reservation confirmation to their hotel concierge who arranged for them to get here – so they had no real idea what they were coming for. I think.

There wasn’t a whole lot of possible conversation beyond that. The last time I spoke Russian was to a CIA recruiter some 30 years ago, a story for another time (how’s that for a tease? and I’m not talking about the Culinary Institute of America) and none of it returned to my tongue. The group of three arrived, with only two, from the US, as their Argentine friend had decided to bail in order to watch a futbol match. On TV. And one of the two who arrived didn’t know what he was coming for either and wasn’t happy about it (the other was a past guest who did), though after a drink or two that, I think, he turned around. Two separate conversations for the rest of the night with occasional forays on the part of the Americans to draw out the Ukrainians, not with any great success – the language barrier didn’t allow for much.

Okay universe, have we got that one out of our system?


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